Montreal attorneys try to trademark 'COVID-19'
MONTREAL -- Two Montreal lawyers have applied to register the term “COVID-19” as a trademark, a bid that experts say is unlikely to succeed.
Meriem Amir and Giovanni De Sua filed applications on March 25 to register the name of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus as well as the terms “prevention and care COVID-19,” according to the trademark database of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
The lawyers, who don't appear on the federal government's database of trademark attorneys, said in their request that the use of the term would be linked to vaccines.
They did not respond to interview requests but colleagues specializing in this area of law said they don't understand why someone would try to register the disease's name.
“These trademarks will probably never be registered in Canada,” said David Lipkus, a trademark attorney with Toronto-based Kesternberg Siegal Lipkus.
Lipkus said it usually takes two years before a decision is made, a timeframe which could be extended due to the pandemic.
“A trademark must pass several tests before being registered, including whether the term is descriptive or distinctive,” he said. “Trying to register 'COVID-19' as a brand would be equivalent to registering 'cancer' or 'diabetes.'”
Alan Macek, another Toronto lawyer, said he isn't surprised to see someone try to register “COVID-19” as a trademark.
“We often see such a wave when there is something new in the news and people talk about it,” he said.
Macek said trademarks are generally accepted for a coined term or combination of words that could include “COVID” but should then be distinct from the name of the virus itself.
The two lawyers aren't alone. On April 7, Nova Scotia medical testing company MedMira applied to register the trademark “REVEALCOVID-19” for “a rapid serological test that would detect antibodies made to fight the novel coronavirus.”
The American patent and trademark agency has also seen an incease in COVID-related application, according to Lipkus.